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The Duel July 11 1804 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ During the course of the 1804 election season Hamilton had regularly and flagrantly vilified Burr in speeches some of which were attended by Burrs agents who reported back on their contents Hamilton covered much the same ground repeatedly that Burr was an unprincipled schemer and would if given the opportunity and power tear the nation apart One of Hamiltons talks in particular given at a private dinner was attended by a Burr supporter whose synopsis made its way into print Burr took particular notice of the writers inflammatory claim that Hamilton had expressed certain despicable opinions of him and that the writer could detail a still more despicable opinion that Hamilton had uttered Burr who at the time of the disclosure had been defeated by Hamiltons candidate in the gubernatorial election wrote an ominous letter to Hamilton demanding an explanation of the still more despicable opinion Hamilton was evasive in his reply that I have expressed some other still more despicable without however mentioning to whom when or where admits of infinite shades The letters flew back and forth Soon seconds took over messenger duties--preliminary steps in the code duello to an eventual interview Hamilton parried to Burrs thrusts while Burr demanded an admission that the thing had been said Hamilton continually pointed to the vagueness of the reporters assertions and indignantly objected to Burrs hostile approach Neither Hamilton nor Burr revealed the nature of the more despicable opinion but both apparently knew to what it referred and it seems that they will be the only ones who will ever know for sure despite some interesting guesses by historians Or perhaps neither knew what it was Hamilton had already covered the spectrum of despicable in his anti-Burr harangues of the past four years and Burr had found no reason to challenge him Could the more despicable
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